Celebrating Women’s Achievements in Health Research: WIDREM Event at KUHeS

The Women in Infectious Diseases and Health Research Network in Malawi (WIDREM) KUHeS Chapter hosted a vibrant celebration event on April 3rd, 2024, at the Library Auditorium, KUHeS Blantyre Campus along Mahatma Gandhi. The event aimed to honor and recognize the remarkable achievements of women in infectious diseases and health research within the academic and professional sphere.

The guest list included esteemed figures such as: the guest of honor Mrs. Gift Kadzamira, Director General for the National Commission of Science and Technology in Malawi; Deputy Vice Chancellor Associate Professor Belinda Gombachika; Dr. Atupele Kapito Tembo (WIDREM Chairperson); some executive deans and their representatives from KUHeS; Directors and representatives from various KUHeS departments and affiliates, among others.

Dr. Atupele Kapito Tembo, set the tone for the event with an inspiring quote from Luke 15:10, ‘I tell you, in heaven there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner whose heart is changed.’ This verse beautifully reflected WIDREM’s belief that if they can inspire or motivate just one lady in the room, they would be excited, knowing that their goal to achieve their vision of ‘one woman and one girl at a time’ is being fulfilled. She also emphasized the inclusion of men in supporting women’s career development, noting evidence based publications on the gender disparities faced by women in these fields. WIDREM’s progress in capacity building and leadership workshops was acknowledged, with thanks extended to supporters and contributors for their financial assistance. The organization’s future plans include expanding to more institutions, enhancing visibility through digital platforms, and strengthening grant writing initiatives to support research endeavors.

The event’s significance was underscored by Mrs. Gift Kadzamira as the National Commission of Science and Technology in Malawi holds a vital role in promoting, supporting, regulating, and coordinating research activities across the country. She stressed the importance of providing an enabling environment for women and girls to excel in the field of science and research. She also highlighted the challenges faced by women at different stages of their academic and professional journey and called for continued support and mentorship to empower women in decision-making roles.

Dr. Belinda Gombachika, Deputy Vice Chancellor, spoke about KUHeS’s strategic pillars focusing on research, networking, and partnerships, aligning with the themes of the WIDREM event. She encouraged attendees to join WIDREM to inspire and empower each other. “We need each other to empower each other by providing an environment for development because we as women understand our own challenges and struggles,” stated Dr Gombachika. She thanked the event organizers and all attendees for gracing the event and taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the remarkable event.

The event also featured motivational remarks from Dr. Linda Mipando, Professor Jane Mallewa, and Dr. Kelita Kamoto, who highlighted their strength, resilience, and determination in their educational and professional journeys and encouraged the audience to do the same. Entertainment was provided by KUHeS students Joyce Chisale with an inspiring poem and music by singer Paul Ngwira and guitarist Odala Macphalen, adding a celebratory atmosphere to the occasion.

The WIDREM celebration event not only honored individual achievements but also served as a platform to advocate for gender equality and support for women in the scientific and research community. The success of this event reflects the ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in infectious diseases and health research.